Growing up plus size was so hard for me, my body blew up when I went to boarding school and from then I could not bounce back to my flat tummy. Yes I once had those believe it or not. My mother would keep saying, ‘It’s baby fat, it will wear off,’ every time someone threw a comment at me. I was in high school and she said it was baby fat. I bought into the dream she sold before high school became stressful and all I could turn to was food. I kid you not when I tell you that people were mean to me for close to no reason, I will never understand what it was till today. But there are things I wish my parents and family had known and that’s why we are here.
WATCH HOW YOU TREAT THEM : My father went on a business trip once, when he came back he brought everyone gifts. Everybody else had the coolest gift ever, I got a skipping rope. When he handed to me he said, ‘You need to lose weight, so have fun with that.’ I altered nothing in that statement and I hated that skipping rope. I just chucked it away and just felt fat and ugly. I felt unworthy of love because of that one gesture from a father figure. I knew he was ashamed of me and my body shape and structure right away. You need to realise that the world is not safe for your children, when they go out there they are already being treated ugly. Do not come off insensitive. Help them embrace their body and remind them that they are enough as they are. Remember that if you treat them horribly, you have planted a seed in them and when they go out there and are treated the same then it is normal. We can not normalize such things for our children, it becomes a never ending toxic coaster.
WATCH WHAT YOU SAY TO THEM, SPEAK POSITIVE: Just in case you did not know, in school the words thrown at plus size children are the worst. Children are the meanest little things you will ever meet. I had nickname after nickname coming at me, even teachers were at it, you would think they would try protect me. One teacher called me 8 ball, ‘Because you are black and fat,’ a whole grown man said this to me. I speak to African parents mostly, stop insulting your children about their looks when they do wrong. That is emotionally taxing for your children, you are hurting them and building a wall of insecurity around them. Teach them what it is to be body positive. Teach them to look themself in the mirror and speak beautiful words to themself.
DO NOT ENABLE THEM: Remember body positivity is to love your body but not to become unhealthy. I have watched parents give up on their children and turn to just giving in to terrible eating habits. That ain’t it. I counselled a 12 year old one time, she was plus size and did not really have friends because people teased her all the time. She explained to me that she went to school with 3 large lunchboxes, if she did not get them she would throw a tantrum.
A teacher confirmed that her lunchbox for one meal was enough to feed at least 4-5 people. What this young lady needed was a parent to talk to her and understand why she turned to food so much instead she just got fed to be silenced. At 12 she could hardly handle a 10 minute walk, she would breathe heavy and ache. Dear African parent talk to your child, they too need that kind of love. They too need to be heard and need a shoulder to lean on. They need to be guided through this life thing. If you give up on them then who will have time for them? They are plus size, help them maintain their weight, let them eat healthy, take walks with them as quality time.
BODY SHAMING IS NOT MOTIVATION: ‘Look at Nicki Minaj and look at you, who will want you?’ – A brother. ‘You are fat and it is disgusting!’- A brother. ‘Look at all this fat on your arm (shrugs)’ A sister. I have reason to believe that every time they said something pertaining ti my weight and my body they hoped it would motivate me to get up and work out. All it did was motivate me to hate myself and not take care of myself. All I wanted to do was hide myself from the world so they would have nothing to say to my face. This is how I became a loner, my mother always wondered where her little bubbly and carefree girl went, this is what hid her. If you are doing this to your child as a parent or as a family you need to STOP!
I did not realise how it stole my freedom but it did, I caged myself so much. There are psychological repercussions that follow this behaviour. Protect your child at all costs. Shut down these comments, reassure your child that they are worthy of love and all that it is to offer them as they are. The importance of shutting these comments down is underrated, hate words create self hate in any person, it leads to suicidal thoughts, feelings of unworthiness and so much more. If they are not shut down then it means it is all true, now we have a child/person who hates the idea of living.
In conclusion, pay attention to your children. Be sure to be there for them emotionally and physically. Be kind to your children, do not be part of the problem. The idea that talking to your children openly and being vulnerable with them opens a door to disrespect is a myth. It actually creates a beautiful relationship between the two of you, you will always know what is going on in your child’s life. They will consider you their safe place, and that right there is priceless. One more thing, providing is great all but you need to try to be there too. I hope this helped you! Ciao!